Tailenders Barker and Wheal tilt compelling Championship game Hampshire’s way at Warwickshire
A compelling LV=Insurance County Championship contest is unfolding at Edgbaston where Hampshire closed the second day on 260-8 in their second innings - 233 ahead of Division 1 leaders Warwickshire.
A fluctuating second day was heading the home side's way when they had Hampshire 208-8, just 181 in front, but former Edgbaston favourite Keith Barker dug in with Brad Wheal to add an unbroken 52 up to stumps, writes BRIAN HALFORD.
After taking a five-for on the first day, Barker continued to impede his former team-mates' title bid with an unbeaten 49 (124 balls) with power to add.
Warwickshire will face an awkward chase in pursuit of a victory which would keep them top of the championship table.
On a hot afternoon, Liam Norwell led the Bears bowling manfully with 4-64 while Danny Briggs wheeled away skilfully for 36-17-38-2 against his former county. But their injury-hit attack was exposed as other bowlers, notably home debutant Chemar Holder, struggled for control.
After the freak clatter of wickets on the first day, a good pitch was put into proper perspective on the second when wickets had to be much harder-earned.
Trailing by 27 on first innings, Hampshire resumed on 41 without loss and took the score to 55 before Norwell made the breakthrough. The big-hearted paceman swung one in to win an lbw appeal against Joe Weatherley (24, 53 balls).
Ian Holland and Tom Alsop added 54 before the Bears struck a double blow just before lunch. Holland (44, 93 balls) edged Norwell to Rob Yates at slip and then Briggs got one to lift at Nick Gubbins and Will Rhodes took a sharp catch at slip.
Briggs bowled with great control after lunch and added the scalp of Alsop (33, 93 balls), adroitly stumped by Michael Burgess, before Norwell trapped Liam Dawson lbw.
James Vince batted diligently for 48 (67 balls, seven fours) and it was a surprise when he perished carelessly, pulling Craig Miles to Matt Lamb at long leg.
Four balls later, Miles hit the middle stump of James Fuller but the Bears were held up by the obdurate Felix Organ who went into tea unbeaten on three from 72 minutes batting and made 16 in exactly two hours before falling lbw to Norwell.
That was 208-8 but Barker batted with great composure and Wheal supported him ably in the last hour to tilt this tight and intriguing match Hampshire's way.
Hampshire head coach Adi Birrell said: ‘We fought hard today.
‘We got ourselves back in the game yesterday with some superb bowling from Abbas and Barker, when we knew we had to take wickets, and then we knew we had to respond with the bat in the third innings.
‘That is always tricky but we applied ourselves very well today.
‘The wicket has calmed down a little bit but we have had to work over hard the whole day, it wasn't easy.
‘We kept losing wickets all along but we put together some valuable partnerships. The guys up top gave us a base and then James Vince and Felix Organ batted really well and Barker and Wheal dug in well in the last hour.’
Warwickshire bowler Norwell added: It was the complete opposite to yesterday. The boys stuck at it really well.
‘Even with the second new ball there wasn't a huge amount going on with the wicket so to keep them to two and a half an over all day was a great effort.
‘The 20 wickets falling yesterday owed a lot to bad batting, there were some average dismissals in both sides, so when our turn comes to bat again we have just got to look to bat long - the longer you bat the easier it will get.
‘Hopefully we can knock them over early in the morning and have the best part of two days to chase with the heavy roller and the sun out for the day.’